Greenlandic water and sanitation—a context oriented analysis of system challenges towards local sustainable development


Today, as Greenland focuses on more economic and cultural autonomy, the continued development of societal infrastructure systems is vital. At the same time, pressure is put on the systems by a lack of financial resources and locally based professional competences as well as new market-based forms of organization. Against this background, the article discusses the challenges facing Greenland’s self-rule in relation to further develop the existing water and wastewater systems so that they can contribute to the sustainable development of Greenland. The article reviews the historical development of the water supply and wastewater system. This leads to an analysis of the sectorisation, which in recent decades has reorganized the Greenlandic infrastructures, and of how this process is influencing local sustainable development. The article discusses the socio-economic and human impacts and points to the need for developing the water and sanitation system to support not only hygiene and health, but also local sustainable development.

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    Internationally, this kind of toilet technology are often referred to as ‘honey buckets’, but to underline the contextual practise in Greenland where the technology is integrated into a public system, we use the notion of ‘bag toilets’ which is a translation of the local way to refer to the system of ‘toilets with a replaceable bag’.


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Correspondence to Kåre Hendriksen.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Hendriksen, K., Hoffmann, B. Greenlandic water and sanitation—a context oriented analysis of system challenges towards local sustainable development. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 33014–33024 (2018).

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  • Greenland
  • Water systems
  • Sanitation
  • Infrastructure systems
  • Modernization
  • Sectorisation
  • Sustainable development
  • Settlement patterns